Recent History - Renewal

Prior to World War II the Cabanne area had been a white middle-class community, but changes engendered by the War brought about an exodus of residents, who were supplanted by younger non-white families. This resulted in a lower economic standard and less ownership by occupants. In the 1940's multiple dwellings were created in former single family houses and large apartments were divided into smaller units, with lessened maintenance causing greater deterioration. The addition of these units produced an increased density of population and a marked rise in school enrollment.

In 1954, the West End Community Conference was organized by black and white neighbors to combat the common problem of blight in the area bounded by Hodiamont, Delmar, Union, Page, and the City limits. An effort to mount a rehabilitation program was undertaken by the City in 1957 on request of the WECC, but was hampered by a lack of funds. This led to a decision by the WECC to seek a Federally assisted urban renewal program for the Conference area. In 1963, the City declared the 693 acre area to be blighted and eligible for $30,000,000 in urban renewal funds. According to the 1960 census, the population was 75% non-white, increasing since to practically 96%, with the majority of low income status.

Renewal efforts, which began in 1965, have met with many obstacles, due to the size, instability, and complexity of the area. More demolition and less rehabilitation than expected has materialized. Among the accomplishments are new dwelling units in Alpha Cabanne Courts, and Community Garden apartments, additions to St. Luke's Hospital and new nursing homes, creation of the Ruth C. Porter Mall and of Parkland, Amherst, and Catalpa Parks. Some changes in the street pattern and cul-de-sacs have been initiated to promote traffic safety. One improvement was the construction of the Skinker Parkway from Maple to Page, opened in 1969. More recently, rehabilitation projects have been completed in apartment groups such as the Harlan Courts and the St. Luke's Plaza. The urban renewal effort is now proceeding under the Federal Block Grant Program.

The West End Community Conference fought for and won a major upgrading of zoning in the area's northern section, to block the trend toward conversions into rooming houses. Among other Conference achievements were establishment of the Freedom of Residence Committee and the disclosure of "red-lining" by lenders.